I've had some projects up my sleeve. Or to be more descriptive, roiling and rioting in my brain until I could make them happen.

Both of the projects that came to fruition recently were the results of dissatisfaction.

I have a dear friend, Michele, whose birthday has long passed. And I just couldn't settle on the right present for her. (Hi, Michele! You're about to see your present before it gets mailed!) She always gives me such cool handmade things, and I wanted to reciprocate in kind. I was really feeling in a funk as no good ideas were coming.

Then, two weeks ago, I just had a day where creativity took over, intuition coalesced, and as I walked Sean in my neighborhood, I just about jumped out of my skin with gift possibilities for M.

I badly wanted to stop walking and go down to my art room and get going, but I knew I needed to get in the exercise and my dog needs it badly too. So I forced myself to keep walking, and tried to keep hold of the ideas and not let them vaporize. Ideas are so ephemeral, you know. It was kind of like walking while holding a dozen helium balloons in a headwind.

Then, on the final lap around the neighborhood, I had a brainstorm in a different direction, about another area of dissatisfaction. This relates to my great desire to have a thriving garden, year-round. Or at least not kill off my plants in the winter. Well, I never want to kill off my plants come to think about it! But, I also get annoyed bringing in a bunch of container plants every winter, when I don't have good enough light for them to thrive, and they drop leaves and dirt for months, and generally clutter up the place.

Ok, enough background. Now onto the projects themselves!

Project One - Collage for Michele

I love collages. I always have. I still have one I made for school in 6th grade. I was really into huskies and sled dogs at the time, having read a lot of Jack London and any other books about dogs from the library - many of which were set in the Yukon. In fact, I used to hook up Babe (Golden Retriever), Jacque (poodle), Jake (poodle, son of Jacque), and a Brittany Spaniel I can't recall the name of to a little red wagon and pretend to be sledding as we went down the rocky road from my trailer to the bus stop 1/8 mile away.

I would bring cheese and bread with me.

I think my reading of Yukon trips was accidentally intermingled by a lot of reading about shepherds and their dogs by Kjelgaard and Terhune, among others. Shepherds liked to wrap up a hunk of bread and a hunk of cheese for lunch on the hills it seems. So, off we would go to the end of the gravel road and squat down together by the mail boxes and eat bread and cheese, and I'd try to get them to learn "gee" and "haw". Hmmm. I may be getting off subject...

So, back to the collage. I have a set of little books to use as backgrounds, including a Bible that was used so much that it is falling apart. I had gone through a bunch of mags several months ago and cut out all kinds of interesting expressions, words, and quotes. I always have a bin of interesting images, some of them from years back still waiting for the perfect project to attach themselves to. I also have lately had a yen for screen or netting. I've been hoarding scraps of window screen and the brightly colored plastic netting that fruits and veggies come in for awhile now. The netting is really fascinating. It comes in very fine net to very loose net patterns, and in yellow, purple, red, black, white, etc. I also had a little set of inks I bought on clearance and have been trying to figure out how to use. And a set of antique travel-related rubber stamps I've been dying to use since last winter.

So, I mixed and matched and pasted and painted. I stamped on vellum. I pulled out a cool circle pen nib and played with the scarlet ink - what a great color! I'm now officially a fan of scarlet. I grabbed some fan shaped brushes and splayed blue ink, a watercolor brush for the yellow. Lots of lots of Mod Podge later, and I had this:

"Here I am above the static-my thoughts long, my days crystal clear."
"flights of fancy"
"The greatest explorers have no maps"
"No one looks back fondly on the time they spent in a parking garage"
"secreted away"
"miles and miles / spans"

I layered some Georgia O'Keefe flowers with pages from Exodus, a tiny Impressionist painting, a pair of happy-go-lucky orange Hunter rain boots, these quirky bird sculptures from Anthropologie, and a retro circusman, with a boarding stamp and compass image.

Here is a bit of a detail shot:

It's all about exploring, taking chances, getting out and away.

Happy Birthday, Michele! You'll be getting it soon, I promise!

Project Two: Cold Frame (a.k.a. Green House)

OK, for as long as I've had a yen to garden, I've heard about cold frames. I don't think I really knew what they were until this year though. They are tiny green houses. In the Spring, you can put out seeds and let your seedlings sprout up in cold frames when it's still too cold to put them in the ground. In the Winter, you can put your live plants in a cold frame to keep them safe from frosts.

Well, as I walked in our neighborhood that night, I saw once again that one of my neighbors had put two glass doors out to the curb as trash. They were whole and unbroken. I'd seen them several times before, but couldn't think of a way to use them. But that night, the idea hit - the doors would make a great lean-to cold frame against my house! I already have a bunch of concrete blocks lying around (thanks to the owner's odd backyard set-up). These would make the ends.

So, Saturday saw me partaking in my own Biggest Loser challenge - lugging HEAVY concrete blocks, bricks, and bric-a-brac from the lower regions of the back yard uphill next to the house. Boy, I'm still feeling the workout! But it slowly took shape.

Tina's Cold Frame

Hmmm. This is a horrible picture. Sorry.

I ended up using a bunch of windows that were also helpfully and oddly laying in the back yard for the front, as one of the doors was too heavy and kept falling over. The old windows are kind of grimey, even after I rinsed them off. So you can't see in very well. But you get the idea.

Here is a side view so you can see the door laying on top and the window on the side to hopefully keep critters out!

And here is a view looking down at the plants who are going to love me all winter. I hope. If they die off after all this work, I'm going to be disgusted!

One day, I'd love to have a real green house. But this is a good start!


Katie November 10, 2009 at 7:37 PM  

What a fun post, Tina!!! I LOVE that collage! Great ideas on both projects :).

Juli November 10, 2009 at 9:58 PM  

Yay for fun projects! Nice work, Tina!

Michele November 13, 2009 at 7:49 AM  

hee-hee. super groovy. Love it. Esp the quotes. :0)

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